Otázka: For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway
An American author and journalist Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on July 21 1899. Let me introduce his difficult way of life, before I tell you something about his novel.
Hemingway grew up in well educated family (his father was a physician and his mother was a musician). He spent his childhood in Oak Park, Illinois, where he attended High School from 1913 until 1917. Early in 1918 Hemingway responded to a Red Cross recruitment effort and became the ambulance driver in Italy. He was seriously wounded by mortar fire, but despite his wounds he carried an Italian soldier to safety. For that deed he received the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery. This strong experiences had big influence for his career of writer. When he moved to Paris with his first wife, he was invited by Gertrude Stein (very popular and honoured writer). She helped him together with other authors,who had hard experiences from WWI, to become popular. James Joyce, Ezra Pound and others are referred to as the „Lost Generation“. This term was popularized by Hemingway in the novel „The Sun Also Rises“.
In 1937 Hemingway arrived to Spain to report on the Spanish Civil War for newspapers in the USA. He was also inspired for the novel “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, which he started to write in 1939 and after one year the most famous novel of him was published. He was present on the D-Day in Normady, lived the liberation of Paris and several battles at the end of WWII. He was awarded by a Bronze Star for his bravery. During the war Hemingway was, as he said „out of business as a writer“.
When the war was over, he was very busy with writing and his experiences from both WWs are involved in his books and reports.
Hemingway had his winter residence in Cuba, this place inspired him for his bestseller „The Old Man and the Sea“. In 1954 Hemingway received the Nobel Prize in Literature. Hemingway had very active lifestyle – He practiced hunting, fishing and travelling. In the last 5years of his life, he suffered many accidents (he had crashed in planes twice!). This caused many of his physical and psychical problems. Consequently, he committed a suicide in 1961.
For Whom the Bell Tolls
The story takes place in Spanish mountains during the Spanish Civil War, in the region occupied by fascist not far from the Republican front line.
There are 5 main characters in this book:
- Robert Jordan: An American teacher and volunteer soldier, specialist in explosives.
- Anselmo: An elderly guide to Robert Jordan.
- Pablo: A cruel leader of antifascist group.
- Pilar: Pablo’s woman, very respected in antifascist community.
- Maria: pretty young woman, blessed by very bad experiences caused by the violence of civil war.
Robert Jordan receives orders to blow up an important bridge in Spanish mountains, near to a secret cave, where he and Anselmo are hidden with several more anti-fascists, including Pablo, Pilar and Maria. Robert Jordan needs their help to blow the bridge up.
At the very beginning Robert and Maria fall in a passionate love. Pablo, the group leader, disagrees with this risky attack, but his opinion isn´t supported by others. Pilar becomes the leader of the group while Pablo attempts to prevent Robert Jordan’s operation. Therefore the others decide to kill Pablo. When Pablo hears about the plot against him, he changes his mind and starts to cooperate. But one day before the attack he escapes with Jordan’s detonators of explosives. This imposes big trouble on Robert Jordan and makes him sure, that the attack would be suicidal for everyone. Nevertheless, Pablo changes his mind again and returns back with apology, but without detonators. Fortunately, he comes with several men and horses, to make the attack and an escape afterwards successfull.
Robert Jordan coordinates his men with automatic rifles and machine guns around the bridge, to protect him during the operation. His duty is very hard, he has to place dynamite below the bridge steel construction and instead of detonators to place grenades. He connects them to long cables, the end of which he pulls far away from the bridge. After Robert Jordan and Anselmo give the tug to the cables, the grenades explodes. Bridge is blown up, the pieces of steel kill Anselmo but do not touch Robert Jordan who has to escape into the mountains and across the front with all the group. During climbing the hills they are pursued by the fascists army immediately. The shot horse of Robert Jordan falls down and brakes Jordans leg. It makes him unable to leave this dangerous place. He orders his big love Maria to leave with others what she do not want, but finally, she obeyed.
At the end, Robert Jordan considers to commit a suicide, but he decides to fight with the coming fascist army troops and to give time to Maria and the whole group to reach the front line, which was not far.
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